The fifth is the most contentious but also the most routine and unexceptional: the alleged replacement of the native-born white working class with a foreign-born nonwhite working class. In this telling, Washington policy, from the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement to current enforcement failures at the border, are part of a broad conspiracy to give American businesses cheap labor and Democratic politicians ready votes.
This is both nothing new and nothing at all. The United States has, from its earliest days, repeatedly “replaced” its working class with migrants, not as an act of substitution, much less as a sinister conspiracy, but as the natural result of upward mobility, the demands of a growing economy and the benefits of a growing population. The idea that NAFTA simply caused jobs to flee the United States sits at odds with the fact that the labor-force participation rate in the United States grew to its peak in the years immediately after the signing of the agreement.
What all of this says is that the phenomenon of replacement, writ large, is America, and has been from the beginning, sometimes by force, mostly by choice. What the far right calls “replacement” is better described as renewal.